Editor's Note: Republican strategist Alex Castellanos was a campaign consultant for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and has worked on more than half a dozen presidential campaigns. Castellanos is a partner in National Media Inc., a political and public affairs consulting firm that specializes in advertising.
Alex Castellanos says stimulus bill is a cover for a bold plan for government to rule key parts of private sector.
(CNN) -- Two Congressmen walk into a bar to watch President Obama's first prime-time press conference. The Democrat says to the Republican....
D: Just watch the president tonight and you'll see how to get this economy back on track. Monopolies.
D: Monopolies so big they will shame Parker Brothers and make them put the board game in a bigger box. Monopolies so huge, they'll make railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt look like a push-cart operator.
R: Why monopolies?
D: In these desperate times, we can't afford to let Americans choose inefficient cars or wasteful health care. We can't let innovation run wild on Wall Street or Main Street. We have to make sure Americans are secure in their health care and jobs, their incomes and energy.
To serve the greater good, we have to organize America's economy so it achieves the best possible ends for all Americans. We can't leave that to chance. Who knows what might happen if individual Americans make those choices in a free market and organize themselves?
R: A little less freedom, a lot more organization, all for the collective good?
D: My friend, we need a directed economy, where we limit people's choices to those that serve the best social ends. Our nation's development is best controlled by monopolies, not some atomistic economy where Americans are free to make almost any choice and organize bottom-up, according to their own whims. That means, big, honking, all-powerful monopolies.
R: But during the campaign, Obama talked about change, fueling "bottom-up prosperity." This sounds like the same old, top-down, industrial-age stuff Democrats have been pitching for years.
D: You betcha! Bottom-up campaign rhetoric just ran into the top-down Democratic establishment from Washington. Guess who won. We're going to create monopolies in the biggest sectors of the economy, starting with banking and financial services. Even after the meltdown, that's still the largest stock market sector, 16 percent of the S&P.
R: Follow the money.
D: Exactly. With massive regulation, caps on pay and restrictions on risk and competition, we can turn the entire financial sector into a cross between a public utility and the DMV.
R: And then?
D: We'll create an energy monopoly that would make J. D. Rockefeller look like a gas station attendant. If it has anything to do with energy, we will control it, plan it and direct it. You are going to love your windmill.
R: I'm not feeling so good.
D: That's next. A health care monopoly alone will organize another 16 percent of the economy. Choice and diversity are great, but not so much in health care. We'll throw in $20 billion at the start for paperless health records. Data, my friend, is power. You know where we will go: Cost controls. Restricted formularies. Nancy Pelosi can be your doctor. You don't need a lot of choice. Just a good choice. Or a good-enough choice. Cough for me.
R: Watch that. I'm leaving.
D: Now that you mention it, we can't forget the good old American auto industry. To borrow from Henry Ford, consumers can pick any color car they want, as long as it is green.
R: Who are you going to get to run these monopolies? You are dealing with increasingly complex economic networks. How are you going to coordinate the sophisticated relationships, the subtle interests and ever-changing needs of millions of American consumers? Americans have traditionally done that themselves, in a natural and organic way, one to another, through the market. Who is smart enough to replace all that?
R: You are making this stuff up. The president isn't talking about huge government-run monopolies. All he's talking about is the stimulus bill. iReport.com: Share your thoughts on the stimulus package
D: Of course. That's the beauty of the thing. As long as we call it "stimulus," we can pass almost anything that expands the power of government to command people's lives. Why do you think Newsweek's cover says, "We Are All Socialists Now?"
R: I need a drink. Don't they serve Congressmen in this bar?
D: No. But you can buy one from a lobbyist.
The opinions in this commentary are solely those of Alex Castellanos.
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